County Leitrim (Liatroim, meaning "grey ridge")


In the Gaelic divisions which preceded the seventeenth century, most of Leitrim, along with Cavan, was part of the kingdom of Bréifne. Leitrim became known as Bréifne O'Rourke, while Cavan was Bréifne O'Reilly. The O'Rourkes ruled the territory for more than 700 years until the final dispossessions of the seventeenth century.

Geographically, the north and south of the county are quite distinct, with wet lowlands to the south and a series of plateaus in the north.

Leitrim today is a sparsely populated region of bogs, hills and lakes, with a lonely beauty all its own. It is difficult to imagine how it must have been in 1841, before the Famine, when it had a population more than five times the present level, the vast majority living in the most abject poverty.

Surnames associated with the county include Mulvey, Rooney, O'Rourke, McHugh, McKeon, Reynolds, McWeeny, Shanley, and Kiernan.